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Adiponectin reduces thermogenesis by inhibiting brown adipose tissue activation in mice



Adiponectin is an adipocyte-derived hormone that plays an important role in energy homeostasis. The main objective of this study was to investigate whether or not adiponectin regulates brown adipose tissue (BAT) activation and thermogenesis.


Core body temperatures (CBTs) of genetic mouse models were monitored at room temperature and during cold exposure. Cultured brown adipocytes and viral vector-mediated gene transduction were used to study the regulatory effects of adiponectin on Ucp1 gene expression and the underlying mechanisms.


The CBTs of adiponectin knockout mice (Adipoq −/−) were significantly higher than those of wild type (WT) mice both at room temperature and during the cold (4°C) challenge. Conversely, reconstitution of adiponectin in Adipoq −/− mice significantly blunted β adrenergic receptor agonist-induced thermogenesis of interscapular BAT. After 10 days of intermittent cold exposure, Adipoq −/− mice exhibited higher UCP1 expression and more brown-like structure in inguinal fat than WT mice. Paradoxically, we found that the anti-thermogenic effect of adiponectin requires neither AdipoR1 nor AdipoR2, two well-known adiponectin receptors. In sharp contrast to the anti-thermogenic effects of adiponectin, AdipoR1 and especially AdipoR2 promote BAT activation. Mechanistically, adiponectin was found to inhibit Ucp1 gene expression by suppressing β3-adrenergic receptor expression in brown adipocytes.


This study demonstrates that adiponectin suppresses thermogenesis, which is likely to be a mechanism whereby adiponectin reduces energy expenditure.

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Adipocyte complement-related protein of 30 kDa (adiponectin)


Adenovirus-encoded adipocyte complement-related protein of 30 kDa (adiponectin)


Adenovirus-encoded green fluorescent protein


AMP-activated protein kinase


Adipose triacylglycerol lipase


β-adrenergic receptor


Brown adipose tissue


Core body temperature


Glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase


Hormone-sensitive lipase


Interscapular brown adipose tissue




Myogenic factor 5


Peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor γ co-activator 1 α


Protein kinase A


Room temperature


Sympathetic nervous system


Uncoupling protein 1


White adipose tissue


Wild type


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We thank Y.-H. Tseng (Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA) and P. Scherer (The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX, USA) for providing brown pre-adipocytes and Adipoq −/− mice, respectively.


This work was supported by grants DK080418 (JS), HD069634 (JS), DK095132 (JS) and R01DK075916 (GF) from the National Institutes of Health and 5-I01-BX000702 (N-WC) from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Duality of interest

The authors declare that there is no duality of interest associated with this manuscript.

Contribution statement

LQ, HY, CB and BL performed experiments, analysed data and revised the article. GF, N-WC and JSc contributed study design, reviewing and editing of this manuscript. JSh is responsible for the integrity of this work as a whole and conceived and supervised the study and wrote the manuscript. All authors approved the final version of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Jianhua Shao.

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Qiao, L., Yoo, H.s., Bosco, C. et al. Adiponectin reduces thermogenesis by inhibiting brown adipose tissue activation in mice. Diabetologia 57, 1027–1036 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00125-014-3180-5

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  • Adiponectin
  • Brown adipose tissue
  • Energy expenditure
  • Thermogenesis